LAST TIME: West Coast 21.17 (143) d Melbourne 14.7 (91), round 21 2003, at Subiaco Oval. Despite being without ruckman Jeff White, the Demons were right in it at half-time, trailing by only 13 points. But West Coast went up a gear in the last half, booting 12 goals to six and running out convincing 52-point winners. Phil Matera kicked five goals, including four in the last term, while Andrew McDougall slotted through four. Eagle Daniel Kerr was best on ground with 25 touches.
Melbourne’s James McDonald (two weeks) and Darren Jolly (three) are sidelined with medial ligament injuries. But with a predominantly healthy list, coach Neale Daniher’s headaches come from who to leave out. The likes of Chris Lamb, Troy Broadbridge, Peter Walsh, Peter Vardy, and draftee Brock McLean, among others, are all pressing for selection. For West Coast, Drew Banfield (knee) and Daniel Chick (thigh) are still a few weeks from being available.
Melbourne has been blessed with a healthy list of goal-kickers this year. The most recent example was during the rout of Carlton, where 11 players posted majors and captain David Neitz kicked only two during the 105-point result. By contrast, West Coast relied on its smalls - Ashley Sampi, Phillip Matera and Daniel Kerr - for 10 of its 11 goals against the Dockers. Matera (18), Sampi (16) and Chris Judd (8) are the club’s top-three goal-scorers. The Eagles need a key-position forward to stand up and relieve the pressure on those players to consistently deliver goals.
AND THE WINNER IS…..Melbourne: Among all the tactics and strategies that come from the coach each week, one stands out above all others that the Melbourne players have executed to perfection – to go out and play with passion. The five-straight wins has added confidence, and more importantly, belief to a playing group that wasn’t highly regarded by many at the start of the year. West Coast enters this contest struggling somewhat and will be hard pressed to come away with the four points on the road. Melbourne by 21 points.